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April 30, 2014

Why Excel is not the Answer to your Problems! (BI)

by Colin Quinn

Everyone loves Microsoft Excel, myself included. Today, Excel has over 300 million users and is continuing to grow, it’s has evolved into the common language of business. It’s versatile, powerful, inexpensive, and easy to use. It makes perfect sense why it’s a popular choice with mid-market organizations for business intelligence right? WRONG. As a BI tool, Excel is sorely lacking. Here’s a list of what we found as the top ten reasons Excel is not the answer to your BI needs:

  1. Data integrity. Excel does not guarantee the integrity of your data, nor the data users that may change it as they please. This is fine for doing informal analysis, but when interacting with your systems, it is key that the integrity of your data is intact and indisputable.
  2. Access control. Excel does not provide access control. SharePoint attempts to "fix" this issue, but can only do so at the file level. Since BI is intended for multiple users, managing the SharePoint “lists” becomes an information management nightmare.
  3. Data Quality. Excel does not provide any sort of data validation; therefore, you may be doing analysis and making decisions based on bad data.
  4. Data Transfer. The principle mode of transfer for Excel data is by email. This means that your critical information about your business is passed around the net. Aside from the obvious security risk, there’s is also the possibility that your pertinent information could be sent to the wrong address, perhaps even outside of your network.
  5. Corruption. Spreadsheet data can become corrupted, especially if the spreadsheets are large. BI often requires moving huge volumes of data, which only increases this initial risk.
  6. Volume. Similarly, large volume spreadsheets can take precious time to move from source to destination, if they even arrive there at all.
  7. Conversion. Manual conversions of an Excel file into a PDF or Word document is a tedious and time consuming process that only increases the likelihood for errors to occur.
  8. Tracking. As Excel files circulate throughout the organization, and revisions are made by users, tracking changes requires navigating a maze of previous versions.
  9. Portals. .xlsx files are agonizing to convert into web pages or portals. In most, if not all cases, already over worked and stressed IT personnel are called in to make this a reality.
  10. Monitor & Control. In Excel there are always multiple versions of the data and no clear or easy way to monitor and control who has access to what valuable information.

At one time, mid-size businesses had few alternatives but to live with these inadequacies, as real BI tools were expensive, difficult to implement, and hard to maintain. But, finally there is a solution that provides the reporting, analysis, dashboard, scorecard, planning, budgeting and forecasting capabilities that workgroups and mid-size companies need at a price you can afford.

Watch: Ted's Montana Grill finds the recipe for faster, more efficient budgeting. 

IBM Cognos Express is the only integrated solution for business intelligence and planning that is purpose built and priced for mid-market users. As a result, midsize enterprises can now use the same analyses, dashboards, KPI’s and planning capabilities that were once restricted to their larger competitors.

If you’re running a midsize business, its time to ditch excel for your BI needs and upgrade to Cognos. Give us a call at 1.888.Kinetek or email us, it's time to talk about how IBM Cognos Express can compete, and succeed against your biggest competitors.

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